Lepidozamia hopei

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Figure 1. L. hopei new leaves.


Distribution & Habitat:

Rainforests of north-eastern Queensland.


This is said to be the tallest growing of all cycads, specimens having been observed up to 20 metres (60 feet) high. It has a relatively slender at about 300 mm (12 ins) across, and while usually single stemmed, multi-stemmed individuals aren't unknown. It has long, arching, pinnate leaves, up to 3 metres (10 feet) long, with glossy green leaflets, 150-300 mm (6-12 inches) long, and up to 30 mm (1.25 in) wide. It is very similar in appearance to its more commonly grown sibling, L. peroffskyana, but it is a much taller and larger plant in general. Spent leaves persist, but are easily removed.

The male cones are about 600 mm (2 feet) long, female cones up to 800 mm (2.5 feet) long, and producing bright red oval seeds, 50 mm (2 in) long.

Figure 2. L. hopei leaf detail.


The seed of this plant was used by the aboriginals for food, although it required quite specialised treatment before being eaten, since the seed is poisonous. Many of the taller specimens in the rainforest still have foot holds visible into the trunk, cut by the aboriginals to help collect the seeds.


This is also an easily grown, attractive cycad for tropical, sub-tropical and even warm temperate areas. It likes a very moist (it is sometimes found growing in creek beds), shaded position, being able to thrive in quite deep shade, since it grows in the lower strata in tropical rainforest whereas L. peroffskyana is essentially a rainforest edge species.

The species has been grown as far south as Nowra NSW but the growth rate is much slower than L. peroffskyana. There are some spectacular mature (transplanted?) specimens in the Botanic Gardens at Coffs Harbour.

Figure 3. L. hopei leaf detail.
Figure 4. L. hopei

Contributed by:

Mike Gray (Text)
Natalie Samuels (Figure 1,2,3&4)

External Links:

Cycad Pages, IUCN, JSTOR, Trebrown, ATRP

Google, Google Images, Flickr, PACSOA Forums